Spring has finally arrived. Is your business ready?
Spring has finally arrived, and with it, severe storms and flooding. Is your business ready?
In the midst of running a business, owners and managers may believe that they will never fall victim to such an emergency. But we all know how fickle Mother Nature can be. There are only two kinds of companies: Ones that have faced a natural disaster and those that will. So, it’s best to be prepared by following these simple (really!) steps:
- Determine the safest area in your business to ride out a storm — away from exterior glass and doors — and make sure employees know where this area is with signs posted for customers. And if your business is in a flood zone, determine the best routes for evacuation.
- Determine how you will secure your facility and equipment, and assign specific tasks to your employees. A training session is a good idea.
- Check on your insurance to ensure you have adequate coverage. Photograph or videotape your facility — inside and out — and don’t forget vehicles and outside inventory.
- One of the most vital functions you will need immediately following the destruction of a severe storm is communication — with your employees, your customers and your community. So, first, ensure you have the most up-to-date contact information for your employees and that you have a solid plan to reach all of them after the storm passes. Set up a phone number they can call if business is disrupted. Make a recording to keep them updated during and after the emergency.
- Likewise, be sure you have the most current contact information for your suppliers and key customers. Let them know the company’s status as soon as you can, and keep them apprised of the condition of the roads and access points to your business. If it will be a few days before you have full operations in place, let creditors know if payments will be delayed. Most will understand your situation as long as you communicate with them.
- Consider purchasing a generator to prepare for potential power outages. Always place the generator outside your building. Prepare a list of contractors who could provide cleaning services, reconstruction, trash removal and wiring.
- Be sure you have the supplies you need on hand: water, food, tarps, plastic bags, tape, plywood, cleaning supplies, brooms, First Aid supplies, battery operated radios and flashlights. Do not use candles due to fire hazard.
- Determine who on your team will be authorized to enter the company premises or use vehicles following an incident, and ensure that everyone knows who is on the list.
- If you know a storm is imminent, pay attention to instructions from your public safety officials, and ensure that all of your phones, pagers, tablets and laptop computers are fully charged. You should always maintain back-up computer files, and store at least one set off-site.
- If you have anything outside your facility that could become airborne, move it to a safer location and secure it against winds. Park vehicles in a protected area. Secure doors, windows and any other openings and move things away from windows. Lock file cabinets. Unplug lamps, radios, computers and other electrical equipment, and cover important electronics with plastic.
- If you have enough time before the storm is predicted to hit, send your employees and customers home to secure their personal property, but do not release anyone to travel unless they have sufficient time to get home. If they do not, move them to your secure location.
- Following the storm, call 911 to make public safety officials aware of the conditions in your location. Report downed power lines, poles and transformers, but do not go near them. Turn off any circuit breakers, particularly if your facility has gotten wet or is leaking.
- Ensure it is safe before making any repairs, and give priority to repairs that will prevent theft. Before attempting to restore power, check with your local provider to make sure it is safe.
- Finally, as soon as it is safe to move around your facility and property, photograph or videotape the damage for insurance purposes.
Ultimately, your safety and the safety of your employees and customers are most important. Property can be replaced.
For more on being prepared and recovering from a disaster, see the Disaster resource guide for small businesses.
For personalized help exploring business ideas, marketing, finance, management, technology, workforce development, growing your business or other business issues, contact a Small Business & Technology Development Center near you. Visit our full list of training courses to find an upcoming training seminar.
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